Monday, March 17, 2008

The history of the tram depot front offices, 582 Moseley Road, Moseley

The tram depot site composes of two buildings: the tram sheds to the rear which are now used as a skateboarding/rock climbing centre and were originally used to house trams. The building to the front, which was the subject of the YouTube video by myself, which contained the administrative offices on the ground floor and a large open plan canteen on the first floor.

West Midlands Travel sold the entire site in the year 2000 to Modius Limited.

In 2003, the front tram offices were sold at auction to Safdar Zaman. Modius Limited retain ownership of the tram sheds.

Advertising Hoardings on the front
In 2001, Modius Limited applied for planning permission to erect large advertising hoardings along the front and side of the old tram offices – planning application C/00296/01/ADV. This application was refused on 12th March 2002. The reasons for refusal were:

“The proposed display would have a negative impact on the former Old Tram Depot (Grade II Listed Building) in terms of visual amenity and would therefore conflict with the Location of Advertisement Hoardings Policy (paragraph 5.2) adopted as Supplementary Planning Guidance.”


“The position of the proposed hoardings would create an unsatisfactory pedestrian visibility splay at the junction of Trafalgar Road and Moseley Road, and therefore prejudices the safety and free flow of pedestrians and motor vehicles in the adjacent highway(s). “

The applicant then appealed and a government inspector agreed with the Council’s decision to refuse the planning application.

In April 2005, the new owner of the tram offices, erected advertising hoardings in exactly the same locations and size as those refused in 2002. I complained to Planning. In a letter dated 10th June 2005, planning agreed that the advertising hoardings were unacceptable, especially in light of the fact they were refused planning permission 3 years earlier.

On the 20th June, Planning then wrote to me to say the advertsing hoardings did not require planning permission, since the site was going to be a building site and under advertising regulations they could erect the hoardings for 3 years.

How is it possible that advertising hoardings in 2002 are deemed to impact of the setting of a statutory listed building and to impact of the visibility at a road junction, is suddenly acceptable in 2005?

Boundary Wall
In 2004, the owner of the offices, Safdar Zaman, sought planning approval to convert the building into offices – planning application S/03789/04/FUL. This was approved on 16th December 2004. One of the conditions attached to the approval was:

“The replacement wall shown on the plans hereby approved shall be erected within 6 months of the date of this approval. REASON: In order to secure the satisfactory visual appearance of the Grade II listed building.”

The reason for this condition was that the owner has demolished an original 18foot high wall – made out of engineering brick – that stretched between the tram sheds and offices, on the Trafalgar Road elevation. Also the oringal front boundary wall of engineering brick was demolished. Both had been demolished without listed building consent.

To date neither walls have been erected. I wrote to the planning department on 24th July 2005, complaining that the walls hadn’t been built. I have never received a response and the walls have still not been erected.

Parking inbetween the tram sheds and tram offices.

When the tram offices were sold to Mr Safdar Zaman, the transfer of ownership contained details on rights of way and car parking in the courtyard inbetween the tram shed and tram offices.

When approval was given in June 2004 to convert the tram offices into office (planning application S/03789/04/FUL), the approval contained the following condition:

“Details of the car parking arrangements with the skateboard park operators. REASON: In order to secure the satisfactory development of the application site. “

In short, work could not start until a legal agreement about car parking was agreed between the skateboard park and the owner of the tram offices, Mr Zaman.

On the 7th February 2005, I complained to Planning that work had started on the front offices and yet no legal agreement had been reached.

On the 11th June 2005, I asked Planning to issue a Stop Notice on the work taking place inside the tram offices since no legal agreement had been reached with the skateboard park about parking arrangements.

On the 4th April 2007 – due to my YouTube video, I eventually got a response from Planning to say that action was not necessary since agreement had been reached on parking arrangements. This is not true – no agreement was ever reached.

Digging below the foundations of the Tram Offices

In 2005, Mr Safdar Zaman sought planning permission to excavate the cellars of the tram offices – planning application S/03384/05/FUL. Planning permission was approved on 17th May 2005.

In June 2005, details were submitted by Mr Zaman contractors to Building Regulations on how the cellars were going to excavated. The application was rejected on 9th July 2005 for the following reasons “Significant problems with the design”

In September 2005, work commenced still without the approval from Building Regulations. The work was stopped for the following reasons “Major excavations being carried out with large digger. Contractor was advised that he should not undermine existing structure. Also advised him that there were major problems with the application.......recommended that work stopped until the structural issues were resolved”

In the Summer 2006, work commenced on excavating the cellar – still without the approval of Building Regulations. The foundations were undermined and required re-strengthening. Work stopped.

Following the publication of my YouTube video, the site was visited by Building Regulations. They found that only 75% of the re-strengthening of the foundations had been complete.

Building Regulations records show:

“all previous work carried out without notification”, “also plans not approved – serious issues about M&E from new floors and basement”, “advised contractor to proceed with u/pin v[ery] cautiously”.

The last updated Building Regulations record from August 2007, state the following:

“No clear plans or details have been submitted showing the full proposals. It remains unclear how it is proposed to comply with almost every aspect of the Building Regulations.. Fire safety requirements and means of access for disabled are a particular concern.”

Work done to the building without Listed Building consent.

The interior and exterior of a statutory listed building is protected – this includes anything that was part of the original structure – right down to the floor boards.

The following have been removed from the tram offices without listed building consent:
1) The front boundary walls and the 18foot high wall that stretched between the offices and the tram sheds.
2) The entire ground floor – namely the concrete floor and wooden oak block covering
3) All the brick walls on the ground floor which subdived it into offices
4) Several large gaping holes have been punctured into the rear elevation of the building – these holes were used by the diggers to get into the basement.
5) Half the first floor – namely the wooden floor boards and wooden joists.

In July 2007, I complained to Planning that the last remaining internal wall and half the first floor had been removed without listed building consent. I have received no response to this enquiry.

In August 2007, I complained to Planning that a new concrete ground floor had been installed in the building, 1 metre below the original level of the ground floor – namely you would have to step down into the ground from the orignal entrance.I have received no response to this enquiry. However, Mr Safdar Zaman has had to seek retrospective planning approval for removal of the ground floor and first floor and installation of new floor at different levels – planning applcation S/05475/07/LBC

This is still awaiting a decision from planning.


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